‘Kids in the town are impacted’- council to tackle lack of outdoor areas for sport

PUBLISHED: 16:08 20 February 2019

A football field in Norfolk. Picture: Ian Burt

A football field in Norfolk. Picture: Ian Burt

A serious shortage in the number of outdoor sports spaces and play areas in Dereham, which has left some sports teams without enough pitches to play on, is to be addressed by the town council.

Jack and Sue Cassidy of Dereham Saints Football Club, who are struggling to find enough space for their teams. Picture: Dan BennettJack and Sue Cassidy of Dereham Saints Football Club, who are struggling to find enough space for their teams. Picture: Dan Bennett

A Dereham Town Council spokesperson said an open spaces assessment from Breckland Council had outlined a shortfall of outdoor playing spaces in the town equivalent to 31 hectares.

The lack of suitable areas means the town council has now put a tender out to find consultants who can identify the need for sports pitches and land that could be used to make up the shortfall.

Jack Cassidy, who runs local football club Dereham Saints FC, has struggled to find enough space for his teams to train on and said: “The space we have at the moment is just not big enough.

“We are desperate for any big training facilities. I want to put out more teams but there just aren’t the facilities which is a problem.

“So far our winter training cost has been about £8,000. Kids in the town are impacted by not having better facilities.”

Dereham Town Council is now in the process of trying to find experts who can identify the most suitable areas of land which could address the shortfall of outdoor playing space.

A spokesperson from Dereham Town Council said: “This shortage of sports pitches causes problems for clubs wanting to expand to give more youngsters, as well as adults, the chance to participate in sports.

“The deficit is increasing because only the largest developments are required to provide an area for sports, therefore as the population increases, the level of playing space is not keeping pace with the number of people wishing to use it.

“The town council looks to the long term health of the town. Good quality sports facilities for young and old are important for physical health, quality of life and general wellbeing.

“This project will take several years to yield results but if it is successful it will have a major impact on the quality of life in the town.”

The tender has been sent out to consultancy firms.

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